Caves of Maresha and Bet-Guvrin in the Judean Lowlands as a Microcosm of the Land of the Caves
The archaeological site contains some 3,500 underground chambers distributed among distinct complexes carved in the thick and homogenous soft chalk of Lower Judea under the former towns of Maresha and Bet Guvrin. Situated on the crossroads of trade routes to Mesopotamia and Egypt, the site bears witness to the region’s tapestry of cultures and their evolution over more than 2,000 years from the 8th century BCE—when Maresha, the older of the two towns was built—to the time of the Crusaders. These quarried caves served as cisterns, oil presses, baths, columbaria (dovecotes), stables, places of religious worship, hideaways and, on the outskirts of the towns, burial areas. Some of the larger chambers feature vaulted arches and supporting pillars.